Rejection. How a writer handles rejection can make or break a career. Rejection can also test your faith in your abilities. Most every writer has felt the sting of rejection. I have a huge file folder filled with rejection letters. Every once in a while I pull the file out and read them. Not because I'm depressed, but because those letters tell a story, my story of how I kept working on my craft.
Do you want to take a peek in my rejection folder? I don't show it to just anybody, but for you, I'll make an exception. Give me a minute. (Using a crane to pull it out. Yah, it's heavy.)
As I open the file, you can see my first few rejections and that they are the standard form letters. Some have pretty letterhead. These are antiques. Most rejections are sent through email today. Anyway, I kept these standard form rejections and continued to work and send out my manuscripts.
Now look at the next batch. See how the standard form letters have handwritten notes of encouragement from the editors and agents. Cool, huh? Well, I knuckled down after receiving those and worked harder.
Ah...look! These rejection letters are gold. They identified problems in my manuscripts with recommendations on how to fix the problems. And see, there at the end? The editor said that if I made the revisions he'd like to see the book again. Totally awesome! Of course, I made the corrections. (Closing file and holding on my lap.)
My rejections tell the story of where I've been and how much I've grown as a writer. They certainly tested my faith in my ability, but they also made my faith stronger.
You might ask, do I still receive rejections? Yes, however most are through email. I have an online file for those. Over the years, I have learned there are many reasons for rejections: the publisher just bought a novel similar to mine, the publisher isn't the right one for my work, the publisher has reached their limit on accepting novels for a while, and on and on. Serious writers can't afford to let rejections stop them from trying.
Rejection letters/emails can be depressing. But that's okay. Just file them away (online or print them up and put them in a draw) and have faith in your ability to learn and grow as a writer. Rejections are the stripes you've earned in your battle to publication. Keep them and every year or so look at them. They will tell your story of where you've been, how you've grown, and give you hope. Really, they will.
You might want to set yourself a goal of receiving so many rejections a year. I did that. I reached that goal for a couple of years and then one day I actually sold a book. I firmly believe my rejections helped me build faith in myself so that my dream could true. They can do the same thing for you. :)
How do you feel about your rejections? Are they your friends? Or your enemies?